Education, Otherwise.

The 1996 Education Act states that parents are responsible for their children’s education, ‘either by regular attendance at school or otherwise’. Here at The Outdoors Group we fully embrace the otherwise. We provide alternative educational provision for school age children through three main avenues; The Outdoors School, our Transitional Learning Programme and our Home Education groups. Before we go any further, we’d like it on record that we think teachers are absolutely phenomenal, unsung heroes and that they often work tirelessly, going above and beyond to support their pupils. However, we believe that education doesn’t have to happen within four walls and that a one-size-fits-all approach (aka the National Curriculum) isn’t effective for a growing minority of children and young people. Over the last few years we’ve seen a huge growth in our Home Education groups as more and more parents have decided to take their children’s education into their own hands and embrace the “otherwise”.

Learning is the product of the activity of learners

The very wise John Holt (educational theorist/philosopher) once said

“We can best help children learn, not by deciding what we think they should learn and thinking of ingenious ways to teach it to them, but by making the world, as far as we can, accessible to them, paying serious attention to what they do, answering their questions — if they have any — and helping them explore the things they are most interested in.”

At our Home Ed groups, this is what we strive to do. We adopt a child-led approach, offering a range of activities at each session but ultimately the children are, by and large, in charge of their time. Our leaders focus on building ‘soft skills’ such as teamwork, communication skills, self-confidence and problem solving. (An aside: soft skills is a bit of a misnomer though as these skills are vital to happy, well rounded, confident and friendly adults.)

Variety is the spice of life

I know we say this about a lot of our sessions but genuinely, no two Home Ed sessions look the same. After asking colleagues for a round up of the last year’s activities, this is just a fraction of what our gang of Home Ed kids did across our three main sites:

  • One group has been clearing an area to make into a story telling area, they have been learning how to build a dead hedge and they will be planting a willow dome to grow over it. They are also building a throne storytelling chair from the old rotted beech tree stump and old branches. We are all looking forward to the tales that will be told from this magical area once completed!
  • Another group have been building a mud kitchen from pallets for the toddler groups, they have learned how to break pallets into usable wood, they have been measuring and cutting wood accurately to make a base and using set squares to make sure the frame is square – not an easy task but one that the group nailed.
  • Writing and performing their own plays, designing costumes and making props
  • Crafts such as making paper, hapa zome printing, drawing, wool weaving, making paintbrushes out of natural materials and painting
  • Forest School activities such as whittling, nordic weaving, campfire cooking, making charcoal, den building, tree climbing
  • Lots of team building games including welly wanging!
  • Bug and beastie hunts and stream dipping

Open Days and Taster Sessions

If you’re a home educating parent or considering an alternative education for your kids and are interested in finding out more then we’ve got just the thing! This September we’re running open days at our two newest sites, Totnes and Ilfracombe. These afternoons will give you the opportunity to see the site, meet the staff and get a feel for what we offer. And if you’re ready to dip your toe in, we are delighted to offer free taster sessions at all of our Home Education groups across Devon! We are so proud to be part of the local home education community in Devon and look forward to meeting even more fantastic families over the next few years.

Author: Hannah Durdin, Marketing Officer & Forest School Leader Date: Wednesday 18th August 2021

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